Warwickshire head groundsman Gary Barwell has reflected on his team's work to get Vitality Blast Finals Day played despite the deluges of last weekend and insists he has "never been prouder" of them.
Storm Alex gave Birmingham everything it had got in the days leading up to Finals Day, and then on Saturday itself, in a sustained torrent which brought more than 75 millimetres of rain over 55 hours.
In a different era, cricket would not have been playable at Edgbaston for about a fortnight. But the much-improved drainage of the field these days meant there was hope – and that hope was realised thanks to an improvement in the weather on Sunday, allied to the expertise and hard graft of the reinforced groundstaff team.
To the delight of the four participating counties, and cricket-lovers watching on TV across the world, Finals Day began at 3.15pm on Sunday and was played to completion.
Barwell’s team has shone many times before to ensure the Bears delivered both domestic and international cricket showpieces, but their defiance of Storm Alex perhaps raised the bar again.
“I am always proud of my team but have never been prouder than last weekend,” he said. “We knew the weather was going to be bad, and it was, but we were prepared for it and the hours the guys put in, and their work in those conditions, were just amazing.
“Throughout the whole build-up and the weekend itself, nobody faltered and nobody moaned.
“I’m really grateful to the four academy players who helped us out on Saturday and also to Stuart Key, Andy Owen and George Burford who put their shoulders to the wheel over the weekend as well. It was a brilliant effort. The Bears family at its best…they battled against the odds but were never going to give in.Gary Barwell
“Getting these big games on is what we do, and are proud to do, for Warwickshire. Storm Alex probably gave us our biggest challenge so it was very pleasing to get the tournament played out and hear the appreciation from the competing clubs.”
That cricket was possible on Sunday was due to all the work put in by the groundstaff throughout Saturday, when they could be seen through the murk shifting water from the field, even as more bucketed down, to prevent too much standing water building up.
“We took it in hourly shifts to prevent the puddles developing,” Barwell said. “I must admit, at 3.30am on Sunday, I was looking out across the ground with the rain still coming down, and thinking, ‘can we do it?’
“Luckily, we got a break in the weather and all the lads’ hard work paid off.”